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We apologize, many wonderful trips were taken in 2006, but no trip reports were submitted for posting to the website.

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Wednesday, 26 January 2022 09:06

2021 DE Christmas Party

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2021 DE Christmas Party

Photos from Ingo Werk and Bill Neill

We had a spectacular day for this year’s DE holiday party. Ron Ross and Nancy Maclean outdid themselves preparing a beautiful setting in their La Cañada backyard looking out over Los Angeles all the way to the Pacific. Nancy baked macarons, sweets and Christmas cookies and put out a wonderful homemade cheese and sausages she and Ron brought back from Croatia. Their house was decorated to a fare-thee-well for the season with heirloom toys, Nancy’s train setup, a gingerbread house and clock tower and their Christmas tree with oraments gathered from their world travels. The day and the setting could not have been better and all of us who gathered enjoyed an excellent afternoon with a fine group of friends. 

Thank you Nancy and Ron!

Wednesday, 26 January 2022 07:55

The Passing of Thanksgiving 2021

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The Passing of Thanksgiving 2021

by Joeso

It was over all too soon. The good eats, the desert adventures, the wonderful camaraderie. After all the planning and preparation it is sad to realize that another Thanksgiving has passed us by so quickly. I wish it could have lasted longer… I seem to be wishing that a lot lately. Could age have something to do with it?

Anyway, the Desert Explorer “Thanksgiving on the River” revival was a huge amount of good old time fun with just a small group. After all the Covid scares and family emergencies, there were only eight of us left around the Thanksgiving Table. Even so, we managed to eat enough to account for a much larger group. Those seated at the table included Mignon, Vicki, Glenn and the Werk family, Ingo, Mary and Cory, plus Sue and I.

Louisiana Ingo and son Cory were anxious to see as much of the desert as we could, so on Thanksgiving morning we headed out and found some abandoned sections of Old Route 66, some hidden petroglyphs and some WWII insignias at Camp Ibis.

On Black Friday we coffeed up before bouncing our Tacomas plus one over Monumental Pass in the Sacra-mento Mountains. Along the way Ingo was able to water his two dogs during our stops at the old mining camps of Cherokee, Lima, Vega, Hill Top and what we have dubbed the “Old Car Mine.”

On Saturday we took the day off from exploring and instead stretched our legs collecting treasures from the thrift stores in Needles and river rocks from the ancient deposits near the town of Golden Shores.

And… every evening (and morning, and lunch) we ate like there was no tomorrow. Many thanks to all for their meal contributions, especially Sue, Mignon and Vicki. They were truly the spark plugs that made it happen. ~ Joeso

(click Read more, below, to see photos)

War Eagle Mine

Bullion Mountains, San Bernardino County, California

Lat. 34° 27’ 31.71” N, Long: 115° 55’ 25.86” W.

By Joe de Kehoe

The October edition of the Desert Explorers newsletter included an article by Jay Lawrence about the War Eagle Mine which immediately caught my eye because I thought it was the one south of Bagdad that I tried for several years to visit. I quickly realized there are at least three mines in California named War Eagle.

Although the term War Eagle is now most commonly associated with Auburn University, the term dates back to the Civil War. Why mines were so named is a mystery; maybe it just sounded good.

The War Eagle Mine that is the subject for this article is in the Bullion Mountains, about 9 miles south of Bagdad on National Trails Highway, old Route 66. The mine was in operation from the late 1800s until about 1931, but the exact dates of mining operations are uncertain, and there were times when the mine was inactive for several years and then reactivated. The principal ore being extracted was wolfenite, a lead ore, and molybdenite. Secondary minerals included gold, silver, copper, and tin. Ore 

from the mine was taken to Bagdad, initially by horse-drawn wagons and later by trucks where it was loaded on to rail cars and shipped to the mill in Barstow. The other important mine using Bagdad as a staging point on the railroad at that time was the Orange Blossom copper mine, 8 miles northeast of Bagdad in the Bristol Mountains. A map of Bagdad drawn in 1910 indicates several businesses in Bagdad that supported the two mines including a general store, mining offices, and livery stables

When I visited the War Eagle Site in 2008 all the buildings were gone, and only a few concrete foundations remained, but there was an extensive network of mine shafts containing rotten wooden ladders; the mine was almost entirely an underground operation.

Access to the mine today is severely restricted because in the 1950s almost the entire eastern part of the Bullion Mountains was included in the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command base at Twentynine Palms where live fire training occurs including small arms, artillery, tank, and close air support aircraft. Consequently, the entire area became off-limits to the public. Trespassing in the area is a felony in addition to being monumentally dangerous.

I tried for two years to gain access to the area, explaining that I was writing a book about the history of the area, but my requests to the Marine Corps were repeatedly denied for all sorts of reasons. Finally, in 2008 a person whose family lived in the desert and whose mother I had interviewed for my book heard of my requests to visit the mine and agreed to take me. This fellow worked as a contractor for the Marines analyzing soil samples on the base. Although I volunteered to drive my Jeep, instead, three marines picked me up from my hotel in Twentynine Palms on the morning of our visit and escorted me through the area for the entire 

day. I felt like quite the dignitary and was treated to one of their MREs for lunch in the field.

Driving through a bombing range in the Bullion Mountains was almost as interesting as visiting the mine. Several times during the day I asked to get out of the vehicle to take photos. Although they agreed, I was instructed to stay on the dirt road because of unexploded ordinance.

I don’t know what the marines are firing that can drill a hole through a bulldozer blade on the front of a tank, but I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of it. On the way back to the base we drove through the range where tanks practice firing on steel silhouette targets moving across the area downrange on railroad tracks. I was impressed!

In addition to the bombing / artillery range the Marines have also built a mock-up of a Middle Eastern village, complete with a mosque, native role-players, trash piles and junk cars. I was not allowed to photograph that.  ~ Joe

(Click Read more, below, to see photos)

Wednesday, 26 January 2022 07:26

2021 Trip Report - Inbound Geology Tour Near Shoshone

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Inbound Geology Tour Near Shoshone

by trip leader Bill Neill

Photos by Bill Neill and Janet Austin

After meeting in Shoshone on Friday afternoon, Oct 22, our inbound group examined two nearby outcrops of volcanic rock, then caravanned to Pahrump for the Rendezvous. Both volcanic rock units are described by a 1997 book, Geology Underfoot in Death Valley and Owens Valley,  by Robert Sharp and Allen Glazner.

From the center of downtown Shoshone, first we drove about 1200 feet to the Southwest, to Dublin Gulch where homeless men during the 1930's excavated living quarters in a layer of lithified volcanic ash. The book chapter describing this unit is titled "A Collector of Volcanic Ashes - Ancient Lake Tecopa".

During the Ice Ages, until about 500,000 years ago, ancient Lake Tecopa covered about 85 square milesand was over 400 feet deep. Over time, mud and volcanic ash were deposited on the lake bottom and eventually filled the lake basin.  These sediments now form rounded hills of tan-colored mudstone along Highway 127 south of Shoshone. The lake sediments also include a dozen volcanic ash layers, derived from explosive eruptions elsewhere in the western states. The thick volcanic layer at Dublic Gulch has been identified geochemically as derived from the enormous eruption that formed Yellowstone caldera, 650 miles tothe northeast. Most of the powdery ash near Shoshone settled on surrounding slopes and was washed into the lake by rainfall.

Our second and final stop on the way to Pahrump was a roadcut 3 miles east of Shoshone. Here we examined another volcanic ash layer, of Miocene age, about 9.5 million years old. This layer also was formed of volcanic ash, but erupted from a nearby vent and deposited while ash particles were still hot, not cooled by the atmosphere like the Lake Tecopa ash layers. The black layer is volcanic glass like obsidian; but unlike obsidian at Mono Craters that was slowly extruded as viscous molten rock, this layer is a “welded tuff”, formed of compressed “shards” of hot volcanic ash derived from an explosive eruption. Above and below the black layer is pink to orange volcanic ash with pumice blocks that cooled faster after eruption and emplacement, so did not nearly remelt with all porosity squeezed out.  

  ~ Bill

(click Read More, below, to see the trip photos)

Wednesday, 26 January 2022 07:15

2021 Trip Reports - Rondy Outbound: Tecopa Area Mines

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Rondy Outbound: Tecopa Area Mines

Trip Leader Jay Lawrence • Photos by Janet Austin and Jay Lawrence

After the Sunday morning meeting at the Rondy we assembled a motley crew of explorers and head down Highway 95 to the Old Spanish Trail Highway, then struck out on dirt toward Tecopa, following the southern edge of the Nopah Range. The group included Lindsay and Michelle Woods, Janet and Pete Austin, Brett Henrich, Pat Nelson, Ed Jack, Dave Hess, Dave Burdick, Craig Baker, Paul Rourman, Marian Johns and me.

Our first stop was the east entrance of the War Eagle Mine. Several of us poked our heads into the mine entrance but we were not there to explore the interior. This 

entrance only hints at the extensive (and dangerous to explore) tunneling, air shafts, elevator drops and excavation inside this mine. We would see several other access points miles away later in the day. It would be an understatement to say that these mountains are riddled with holes. On an earlier visit I met a group of mine explorers who had been under-ground here for a week and they felt they had barely started exploring.

Next we visited the remains of Lower Noonday Camp where local ore was processed before transport by rail. Gravity and time have beat up the old ore chute, but a large iron tank and several water runs remain.

We headed around the corner of the Nopahs to the west entrance with a stop for lunch. Several folks elected to run the loop up to and under the huge ore chute that marks the primary entrance to the War Eagle. It is a massive structure and still in remarkable shape after being abandoned for more than 65 years.

Around the next corner we found the Columbia Mine lower entrance and upper entrance with its big ore chute and tram track remains along with a slightly used Oldsmobile carcass. Several folks drove and hiked to the ore chute. The small turnaround limited the number of cars that could get up that road and the dropoffs make any mistake a big one.

We hit the Old Spanish Trail Highway and pavement again at Tecopa and said our goodbyes to the people who were headed out. Ed Jack, Pat Nelson, Dave Hess, Dave Burdick, Pete and Janet Austin and I continued on to Ibex Springs and the two talc mine sites there. One of the few buildings that was standing only last year has collapsed. The doghouse over the spring is still in OK shape and the small water tank 

remain. We ran into big washouts, ran out of road and ran out of daylight so more exploration would have to wait for another day. We had a full day with great people and beautiful weather. We headed back to Highway 127 and wished each other safe travels when we hit the pavement and unlocked hubs. ~ Jay

(Click Read More, below, to see the photos from this trip)

Wednesday, 26 January 2022 07:07

2021 Trip Report - Titus Canyon Geology Tour

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Titus Canyon Geology Tour

By trip leader Bill Neill

Photos by Bill Neill, Janet Austin and Ingo Werk

On Saturday, Oct. 23, during the Rendezvous at Pahrump, our caravan of 11 vehicles first drove about 60 miles northward on pavement, through Amargosa Valley and Beatty, then westward past old mining camps of Rhyolite and Bullfrog.  Our destination was the 26-mile, one-way dirt road across the Grapevine Mountains and down Titus Canyon into Death Valley.  At the outset I handed out photocopies of a geology road guide, ten pages from a 2007 paperback, Geology of Death Valley, by Marli Miller and Lauren Wright.  But our main interest during this trip was viewing the impressive scenery; so for this report, I’ll just show photos without geology comments.  ~ Bill

(click Read more, below, to see the awesome photos)

Tuesday, 25 January 2022 22:43

2021 Trip Report - Ash Meadows Trip

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Ash Meadows Trip

 Leaders – Mignon Slentz and Glenn Shaw

Trip Report by Mignon Slentz • Photos by Mignon Slentz, Julie Smith and Barbara Midlikoski

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was formed in 1984 to protect over 30 endemic species of plants and animals, specifically the Devil’s Hole pupfish that were put on the endangered species list in 1963. Participants were Ed Jack, Pat Nelson, Marian Johns, Ron Ross, Nancy Maclean, Barb and Ron Midlikoski, Ron Lipari, Bill and Julie Smith, Craig Baker, Bob Peltzman, Joaquin Slentz, Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Bruce and Shelly Barnett.

Ash Meadows is the largest remaining oasis in the Mojave Desert. The crystal clear blue-green water comes from melted ice from the last ice age and is know as fossil water. We visited only several of the 40 springs on the 24,000 acres that together produce over 10,000 gallons of water a minute.

Point of Rocks consists of several springs with Kings being the largest. The half mile loop trail is an easy pleasant walk along a wooden boardwalk where we got our first look at the tiny pupfish that are under 2” in length. The males are blue and the females green.

Devil’s Hole Spring, our next stop, is actually managed by the Death Valley National Park. It is a water filled fault with a temperature of a constant 93 degrees. The hole has only been explored down to 500’. The pupfish live in the upper 80’ and have a lifespan of 10-14 months.

The entire spring has a gate and barbed wire surrounding it to deter vandalism.

We stopped for a look at Crystal Reservoir which is one of the few places you can swim in the wetlands, but beware of “swimmer’s itch.”

Our next stop took us to Longstreet Springs and Cabin. Jack Longstreet built the rock cabin in the 1890s. The elements took their toll on the structure which was restored in 1980 using 95% of the original stones. We ended our trip at the Visitor’s Center and had lunch at the picnic area. Some chose to head back to town while the rest of us took the .9 mile boardwalk loop to see Crystal Springs. We finally got to see the famed blue-green waters bubbling up from the spring’s source.

Early spring is a good time to visit Ash Meadows. There are over 300 species of birds, along with bighorn sheep and bobcats that come for water. It is a popular stop over for many migrating birds as well.   ~ Mignon

(click Read More to see the photos)

Trip Notes

2021 Pahrump, Nevada Rendezvous

By Jean Hansen

 Friday, October 22, 2021: We met Bob & Sue Jaussaud and their whole group at Halloran Springs Road for the rendezvous inbound trip. The weather for this outing was absolutely beautiful! This meeting area happened to also be near a petroglyph site named:

  • Halloran Springs rock art site: This is a small, but nice petroglyph site consisting of archaic style petroglyphs. We all viewed the petroglyphs and then proceeded on to:
  • Halloran Springs: This was an old Route 66 watering hole and we found it quite interesting to see the remains of the original well. From here we continued on to:
  • Turquoise Mountain: An old turquoise mine which is now a large complex of cell repeater towers. The view from the top of this hill was spectacular!
  • From here, Bob & Sue led us on an old (year 1910) road which originally went from Silver Lakes, California to Goodsprings, Nevada. Bob told us that this road was part of the Heritage Trail. It was a beautiful drive and we enjoyed it very much. It went through some very scenic areas. Along this road, we stopped at a water hole which was fenced, presumably to keep out the burro population.
  • We arrived at Kelly Airfield, which now has a corral and stock tank. We all fanned out, looking for the original airfield. I’m not sure if we found it or not, but it was fun looking for it. Then Bob & Sue led us to:
    • Ripley Cemetery: A very nice, well-kept local cemetery. It was very interesting to walk among the gravestones – a bit of history here. From here, we proceeded to:
    • Goodsprings, Nevada – the Pioneer Saloon. This is a historic saloon. We didn’t go in on this particular day, due to time constraints, but Sunny & I have been in there before. It has a very unique pressed tin ceiling, a wonderful old bar and a great atmosphere.
    • Then we took the scenic drive to Pahrump, ending atthe site of the rendezvous, the Wine Ridge RV Resort. Very posh! We had a great happy hour and potluck with old friends.

    Sunday, October 24, 2021: We all gathered in the Wine Ridge clubhouse for a short Desert Explorers meeting (and donuts). Then we left and went back out to the Johnnie Mine and Mount Schrader again, this time with Bob & Sue Jaussaud, Mignon Slentz, Glenn Shaw and Ron Lipari. We basically did a repeat of yesterday’s trip and after viewing the petroglyphs and the mine, we all parted ways. It was a very nice rendezvous and Sunny & I enjoyed it.   ~ Jean

Inbound from Turquoise Mountain to Goodsprings

By Joeso

From the top of Turquoise Mountain one can see just about forever. In the 1950’s AT&T took advantage of that fact when they constructed one of their “Long Lines” towers there. “Long Lines” was a coast-to-coast microwave link which carried most of our long distance telephone calls and television programs. Kennedy’s assassination and Nixon’s resignation were broadcast through Turquoise Mountain and “Long Lines” was in operation into the 1990’s, when it was gradually phased out with fiber optics. The military also had communication lines on Turquoise Mountain using a system called AUTOVON. During the Cold War of the 1960’s, these facilities were reinforced to withstand a nuclear attack and remain operational.

We were on Turquoise Mountain as part of our Inbound Trip for the 2021 DE Rendezvous in Pahrump. Our group had elected to take the old historic back roads to Pahrump. We’d met at Halloran Springs and checked out the spring and some petroglyphs nearby before heading toTurquoise Mountain. Our group was 16 strong and included Marian Johns, Sunny and Jean Hansen, Ed Jack, Bill and Julie Smith, David Hess, Bruce and Shelly Barnett, Pat Nelson, Mignon Slentz, Dean Linder, Dave Burdock, Ron Lipari, Sue Jaussaud and yours truly.

According to the late historian Dennis Casebier, the road from Halloran Springs to Francis Spring is one of the oldest in the Mojave Desert. Travelers from Los Angeles, who wanted to access the new gold fields in the Ivanpah and Good Springs areas, would follow the Mojave Road to Soda Spring then turn north to Halloran Springs and continue from there to the next good water at Francis Spring.

A few miles past Halloran Springs we left the really old road and followed the 1950’s paved road to the top of Turquoise Mountain. Later, after descending from Turquoise Mountain, we located what Casebier describes as the early auto road from Silver Lake (not the trendy community in Los Angeles but a small town that was about 8 miles north of where Baker is today) toward Salt Lake City and followed it a short ways. The Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad (T&T) was constructed between 1905-07 and Silver Lake, being on the railroad line and the old Salt Lake wagon road, became the area focal point. What would become the town of Baker remained just a siding on the T&T until the new road (that would become I-15) was graded through Baker in 1925. Thus it seems that prior to 1925 the principal auto roadpassed Turquoise Mountain on its north side. After locating the old road, we followed it until it joined the Halloran Springs route just south of Francis Spring.

From Francis Spring we headed across Shadow Valley to Kelly Field, an intermediate airfield on the 1930’s airmail route between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. From the old airfield, we went over the Mesquite Mountains via Winter Pass to access the town of Sandy and the whimsical Ripley Cemetery. Our last destination, before heading to Pahrump and “happy hour”, was Goodsprings. The historic Goodsprings Saloon was creatively decorated for Halloween but sadly only open to patrons of the restaurant next door.

The final route to Pahrump over Wilson Pass was long, dusty and bumpy but I didn’t hear a single complaint. It was a great group. Thanks to all who came along.

~ Joeso

(click Read More to see the photos)

Monday, 10 January 2022 17:43

2021 Trip Report - Jeep Safari in Moab

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Jeep Safari in Moab

By Dave Burdick

Three years ago I wrote about the Red Rock 4-Wheelers (RR4W) Jeep Safari in Moab. Well we’re back again, third time. We’ve found that there is so much more to see so we added a couple of more days going on our own lonesome.

Day 1  We arrived sooner than expected in the area and went exploring for an old mining town  called Sego, North of Thompson Springs. Went up a beautiful canyon along an abandoned railroad grade to what’s left of an old hotel, cemetery and mine site.

Next we journeyed east on Interstate 70 and cut off towards the Colorado river and the old Dewey Suspension Bridge to Entrada Bluffs Road to Top of the World trail. Not recommended for stock SUVs. As the road goes upward you encounter steeper and larger ledges as you climb. Almost there, within a mile of the summit and the best view in Moab we stopped. Good judgement won out?

Back on pavement driving along the river to Onion Creek / Fisher Towers we had a very enjoyable and scenic drive up the canyon along the creek which we crossed about thirty times. Two wheel drive high clearance.

Day 2 We started off again on our own to Hurrah Pass and Chicken Corners – a fun, easy trip. Starting at MacDonald’s in town along Kane Creek Road along the Colorado River climbing up to Hurrah Pass looking back down at the river. Down the pass 12 miles through interesting four wheeling to see the river about 450 feet below, straight down. Make a left, (the passenger should not look down), then two miles to the walking trail and view of river and Thelma and Louise Point.

Day 3 With the RR4W Labor Day Safari. After a big breakfast then off to Day Canyon. During the driver’s meeting we learned that the road was closed due to a wash out. Scouts went ahead and reported back that good 4-wheelers could get through. After a long rough scenic climb came a commanding view, lunch and back. An OK trip... but forgettable. Good barbecue.      

Day 4 Red Rock 4-Wheelers. I was able to trade my ticket for a boring trail for a more difficult one with the Big Kids called Tiptoe Behind the Rocks, 33 miles of rock stacking, ledge climbing, and white knuckle descending obstacles. After a short conversation with trail officials about tire size and skills, we were off. The first obstacle was off-camber ruts. One of the drivers who did not pay attention went on his side, easy fix, let’s git going. Next stop for a look at High Dive Canyon,   NO THANK YOU.

After several ledge and rock climbs (Fun!), the best advice came from the old trip leader “Boys, go slow and easy and let the Jeep do what it was designed to do.” The next obstacle to come was a descent – White Knuckles – everyone made it through. A fun trip. No scratches or scrapes. The Best.

Day 5 With the Red Rocks 4-Wheelers on Secret Spire Trail. It was an easy trail with a variety of terrains, a few ledges, some  slick rock, soft sand and interesting drops.

After airing down we started on a well graded road as we headed towards the Green River and Spring Canyon . We spent our lunch break hiking over to the Secret Spire and some other rock formations. It was hard to put its size into perspective. Then on to the  Dellenbaugh Tunnel and a scenic trail down Spring Canyon. Then good 4- wheeling back to Moab and the long trip home.  ~ Dave

(Click Read More to see the photo gallery)

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